Monday, November 7, 2016

366 Project - Day 312 - "The Last Gift"

November 07, 2016 - "The Last Gift"

Living in a Catholic-run nursing home without any sort of income for over half-a-dozen years, my Dad didn't have much in terms of possessions. He entered there with next to nothing... and what he had at the time of his death was primarily things that were gifts to him from family and friends. He had a closet and dresser full of clothes - most of which he never wore. (There were a few outfits he felt very comfortable in... and didn't feel the need for much else). His most valuable possessions were the family photos he had spread all across his side of the room... and several little religious items he had been given.

Despite not having much to give, my Dad loved being able to give things to people. Sometimes he'd be given religious items like Rosaries or Saint Medals from visiting religious... and, being as these were the items he had that he could give, he usually ended up giving them as gifts to other people. One day he gave me a small wooden desktop Crucifix, which he said he really wanted and needed me to have. It has been on my prayer altar ever since. A few visits later he gave my son a St. Benedict medal... and gave a small gold single-decade Rosary to my daughter.

This particular item, however, was the final gift. It's a brass wall cross with a figure of the Risen Christ, instead of the Crucified Christ. Once again he felt that he really wanted me to have it... that he "needed" to give it to me. It had been given to him when the priest who he had come to know quite well was transferred to a different part of the Diocese. It had hung on the wall in the priest's office... and he chose to gift it to my Dad when he left. My Dad, in turn, chose to gift it to me... and it has hung on the wall beside my desk ever since.

It's not only a daily reminder of my Dad and my faith - it's also a reminder of true charity and love to me. It reminds me of the story of "The Poor Widow's Contribution" from the Bible. It is told in both the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark and the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

"He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." - Mark 12:41-44.

My Dad did not have material wealth... but what he had was far more valuable. He had love... and the willingness and desire to give all of himself and what little he did possess, out of that love. It was what he had... and so it was what he gave.

This cross will forever be a reminder to me of what is truly important in life: "Love". Personally, I cannot think of a more perfect "last gift" for my Dad to have given me.

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